Creating SharePoint Mashups

Crucial information rests in your non-SharePoint solutions, such as SAP, Oracle, or other enterprise apps. How do you unlock that information so SharePoint users within your organization can take advantage of it?

Before you turn to your developers, JackBe would like you to consider the concept of the mashup, combining many mini sources into a single solution. JackBe’s Mashup Sites for SharePoint aims to solve the problem of integrating SharePoint  with the rest of your systems, whether it’s an inside-out  problem (connecting information in SharePoint to outside sources) or an outside-in problem (connecting outside info to SharePoint), or even an inside-to-inside problem (connecting information within SharePoint).

“None of these have to be dev only,” says JackBe marketing head Chris Warner. “We take all the messy sources and make them all look the same.” Mashup Sites is a solution that lets end users create, use, and share mashups and apps. “We  virtualize it all down to a visual catalog, using metaphors the average spreadsheet jockey knows.”

“We can get info on SharePoint lists, we can create apps around data sources, and push them into SharePoint as a Web Part, wiki, or blog, or onto mobile devices,” says Dan Malk, JackBe’s vice president of application platform.  It differs from Business Connectivity Services (BCS), the ability in SharePoint 2010 to bring line of business data into SharePoint, he says, because BCS is a developer effort and is about bringing individual information sources or a single database into SharePoint.

With Mashups for SharePoint, the user can push various lists to a “hub” where they are registered. Users can also pull from the hub. Malk used the example of someone having project calendars in a list on SharePoint and other calendars located in different areas and wanting a unified view. You register the lists from where they originate onto the hub, which can be located on a browser page or in SharePoint.

Then you use the company’s Presto Wires, a tool similar to Visio, to combine them visually. (They can also be combined programmatically in the underlying API, so integrators or devs can have a layer they can work in.) The wired-up blocks, or information sources, are wired to output, saved, and given a name. The resulting mashup goes back to the hub for use or can be input into future mashups—or mashups of mashups. And so on.

Security and access are integral. “We support authentication in SharePoint—access is based on what you have access to. Users building mashups see none of this—the product passes their credentials down,” Warner says. The typical mashup uses different security profiles for different protocols, Malk says.

The solution lets users share mashups to SharePoint communities as native WebParts as well as share mashups with non-SharePoint users through Microsoft Excel, Oracle WebCenter, Apple iPhone, and more. It’s also bidirectional between MOSS 2007 and SharePoint 2010 (the company recently announced SharePoint 2010 support), using the push/pull capabilities to bridge the upgrade gap. To learn more about Mashup Sites for SharePoint, visit the JackBe website.

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